Choosing a Floor Contractor
The best tip we can give someone looking for a contractor is checking references and view the work performed on the job site. Talking to recent clients about the job and how the work was executed will help you get a better idea of the contractor.
Observing a few job sites is the single most important thing you can do. Your eye for quality (detail) might be very different from someone else's. A reference is not always a foolproof way to ensure a good flooring job. However, it will give you better odds for a better quality job and even better odds seeing it for yourself.
Every floor contractor sands differently. Looking at the work performed in certain areas and in certain ways will reveal the ability of the workers.
1. Let's start with the areas along the walls and in doorways. They should be flat, smooth, and even to match the center of the room (field). Standing looking into the light at certain angles, you should not see swirls, dips, roughness, smudges, shadows, hairs, etc.
2. Regarding the field again, looking into the light, it should be flat and even. There should be no fine lines across the floor (chattering) nor dips or heavy lines across the floor.
3. A rough floor can indicate poor quality sanding, and unfiltered finish, or a floor that wasn't vacuumed well. One of our biggest issues with executing quality on stairs is removing spindles to achieve a high-quality sanding job on one of the hardest areas to sand on a project.
If you are installing a new set of stairs or new railings, you can make arrangements with the builder or stair company to put the spindles in after the sanding and finishing. By taking the spindles out, you expose a small area or nook between and around the spindles that are highly visible on most stairs. It allows us to do an almost perfect and flawless job.
Removing spindles can be a very simple or difficult task, and most contractors will charge extra depending on each job. However, the results cannot be matched, especially on older stairs.
We will sand and finish railings to match your stairs and floors. This service can be costly, but still less expensive than installing new railings in most cases.
Repairs can be as simple as one board being replaced or as intricate as a whole house with multiple area repairs. A good repair is one that is hard to spot. Here are some helpful tips.
1. This tip is one that many will overlook because nobody thought of it, or because it's a more difficult approach and at a higher cost if you are paying your contractor to do the work. When repairing aged wood with new wood, it will most likely be lighter, a different grain, and possibly a slightly different size.
If the repair is not too large, the best method to find the exact wood that is native to your house is in your closets. We call this resource donor wood. Of course, if you choose this option, something will have to be put back into your closets (new wood, carpet, etc.).
If you are doing any renovations and are removing old floors, do yourself and maybe the next owners a big favor — save it. It will go a long way if you have to repair something down the road. We have wood saved from prior jobs that we have renovated to be used for clients in those rare jobs where a match is needed.
Additionally, remember that oak comes in white and red varieties, so make sure you identify what you have before you do your repairs. We can't count how many times we've seen this mistake made by builders, homeowners, and other floor contractors. Most of the time we can tell if it's red or white.
2. This tip applies to larger repairs. For example, a wall is removed during a renovation, and you have half of the room exposed without a floor. This decision is going to be made on which direction the floor goes, horizontally or vertically.
If the floor runs vertically and has to be intertwined, basically board-by-board has to be slid out, and another different size slid into its place. This would apply to this scenario the best. Trying to find this much donor wood to repair this type of repair is most unlikely.
Our approach to this dilemma is to remove the rest of the room and start from scratch even if this means cutting across a doorway to put in a transitional piece to break it off from the rest of the house. By removing the rest of the floor, you would prevent the zipper look across the middle of the room. When the direction of wood is horizontal, it is a lot easier to repair, and there are less noticeable differences in the wood, usually with better results.
If you think that sanding can be 100% dustless, think again. The term dustless is very misleading. It is almost impossible to sand without some dust escaping into the air. That is why we say dust containment system because you are trying to contain as much dust as you can.
One of the best ways to preserve your floors from premature wear and tear is keeping them free of dirt, water, and hard abrasive substances. We tell clients to vacuum as much as they can, and we offer them a backpack vacuum system. They can buy a complete system or attachments that can be combined with their own system.
Water or liquids can be destructive to your floors if they are allowed to accumulate and stay on for a period of time. Using a damp cloth and mop, you can safely remove liquids. Your favorite cleaning product will be required on occasions when residue cannot be removed with a vacuum cleaner.
There are many floor cleaning products on the market, but not all are best for your floors. Talk to professionals to see what they recommend for your floors. Reading articles from floor manufacturers and professionals will also help make your decision easier. We use a product from Bona and can purchase it from our supplier for our clients.